Thanking in the Power of Three

I submitted this post on Virtual Southside, my school’s professional development Ning site, the week of Thanksgiving break.  My school, Benton High School in St. Joseph, MO, has been working diligently toward meeting all the requirements of our school improvement plan causing great stress on our staff.  From monitoring progress routinely on work toward state testing, to improving instruction in best practices by department, to to preparing for our district walkthrough — our staff (and probably most public school instructional families) needed to remember to take care of each other in the difficult times.


I thought about it morning, noon, and night.  We need help.  It’s been a rough THREE months with expectations, deadlines, and accountability.  The economy is rough.  The war is still going.  Students seem more apathetic than ever.  As a principal, I want to run around and tell everyone they are doing a good job.  In the back of my mind I hear, “Good is the enemy of great.”  What should I say to teachers?  Where do I go?  How can I make this better somehow?  I found the answer in three places.  Those who know me won’t be surprised at what they were.


I found one part in church.  Pastor Darrell Jones said, “Be thankful, especially during this time of year!  Look at what you DO have – the half full part of your glass – and celebrate and thank God for what you have! So many do not have what you have.”


I found the second with Kurt, my husband (in case you didn’t know his name), be thankful for what you have now because tomorrow it might be gone or at least far, far away.  The time you have with the people you care about and work with is precious – we should not waste it.  Celebrate, enjoy, and use that time to bring joy in the moments, with comments and during our times together.  You will never regret that you did that.


I found the third in my close friends.  Three of them, actually.  They may not even know how much their words affected me.  They told me we need to celebrate each other more.  They told me it’s okay to be “blue,” that it is not weak to be emotive and passionate about what I do – as a matter of fact it’s a good thing.  They told me they have never worked with a principal who thinks so much about how people feel – staff and students alike – as much as I do, and that’s really a nice difference at Benton.


Transforming School Culture.  I went to hear Dr. Muhammod talk about how to transform your school.  He taught me that teachers fall into three (four actually, but I combined the last two for obvious reasons) categories:  1) those who believe in children and change to help them achieve, 2) those who believe in themselves and do all they can to keep their own lives settled regardless of the outcome for students, and 3) those who either try to survive students or are too new to know where they fall.

I realized that when I was a classroom teacher, I never measured the success of my class on the few students who did not perform or engage in learning.  Oh sure, they had the ability to derail a lesson if I let them.  They had the power to make me feel miserable, if I let them.  They even had the power to make me feel like I was not successful – if I let them.  But I didn’t.  I focused on how to reach them academically.  I worked at how to find a way to make them the success they needed to be.  And I got to know them.  Crazy thing – it was the last one, the third way – getting to know them – that worked best, fastest, and most substantial.  I realized as I was sending an email to a close friend and staff member – what we needed to do as a staff at Benton High School was exactly the same – we needed to get closer to the people who cause us our biggest struggle(s).


Being thankful with the Power of Three is simple.  The process is to help you be thankful for people or circumstances that seem difficult or uncomfortable in your life.  Everyone can do it.  There are only three steps.  The steps have three limits or parts.  The entire staff can do it, but if only three people do, it will still be a powerful three.

1. Listen to what you say.  (or what others are saying).    *If you (or they) complain at least three times about the SAME EXACT THING (or a version of the same thing) – it’s time to get to the bottom of the issue.

2. Break down what makes this an issue for you (or the person).  *Determine WHO, WHAT, and WHY.  Keep it simple.

3. Go to the person at the source.  *Tell that person something personal about yourself. *Ask that person on thing personal about him/herself.*Give the person a compliment.

Repeat step 3 three times.  See if things don’t change.  You will find yourself thankful for that person.  You will find yourself thankful for what you have.  You will find yourself thankful for having done it.  Join me in the Power of Three.

Photos from Flikr:  One by horizontal.integration ; Two by lomokev; Three by BrittneyBush, When I grow up I want to be a Hollyhock by Fotos by Flo, The Three Flowers by le faju, tulip by reallyreallyrosie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *